BT ALC Big Band: Hearing The Truth

Boston ensemble purveys sturdy modern big band sounds in the Gordon Goodwin mould, taking a shot at American populism along the way

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This is the fifth CD recorded by the Boston-based BT ALC Big Band which was formed by co-leaders Brian Thomas and Alex Lee-Clark in 2011. It works quite regularly at clubs, theatres and festivals around the New England area and the leaders, as committed educators, also teach clinics and workshops for college and high-school students.

The press release accompanying this CD points out that some of the material was recorded in 2020, “just as the Covid pandemic spread fear and civil unrest sparking disharmony, tension and anger”, adding that “The looming presidential election fanned the flames of division.” Coincidentally, just as I received Hearing The Truth for review, I was enjoying Tim Alberta’s mammoth American Carnage, concerning the rise of president Trump.

The first track to be recorded was Bring Forth Change which has a Motown-feel; it was assembled remotely and released as a single. The soulful Hearing The Truth, “written about Fox News and all the charlatans on the network”, could almost come out of the eclectic Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band playbook. It even manages to include some New Orleans polyphony along the way. Dimples has Brian Thomas on trombone soloing inventively over an extended organ vamp. The funky Iguana has some right-in-the-pocket solos from Alex Lee-Clark, Eric Krasno and Karl Denson.

Just like Goodwin, who has recorded some of the most innovative big band sounds in recent years, the BT ALC Big band shows the genre is still very much alive and kicking. Incidentally I have done my best with the aid of a magnifying glass to spell the personnel names correctly – far from easy with such a small typeface.

Discography
Dimples; Hearing The Truth; Here In This Cave; What Will You Do?; The Iguana; Egyptian Secrets; That Sound; Pound For Pound; Bring Forth Change (52.39)
Collectively: Buon Watson, Alex-Lee-Clark, Doug Olson, Mark Berney, Yaure Muniz, Eric Bloom (t); Benjamin Griffin, Brian Thomas, Clayton Dewalt, Angel Subero, Rob Krahn (tb); Tucker Antell, Pete Levesque, Mike Tucker, Dino Govoni, Jared Sims, Ben Whiting, Karl Denson (s, ww); Steve Fell, Jeffrey Lockhart, Aaron Bellamy, Eric Krasno (elg); Darby Wolf, Amy Bellamy, John Medeski, Sam Gilman (kyb); Jesse Williams, Aaron Bellamy (elb); Yahuba Garcia-Torres, Damon Grant (pc); Dean Johnston, Alan Evans, Adam Deitch (d); G Love, Nigel Hall (v). Erving, Massachusetts, 2023.
Vintage League Music